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Message from the Superintendent - Safety/Security Update

The following message was emailed to parents today using the District’s Skylert parent communications system.

 

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THIS IS A MESSAGE FROM DEER PARK ISD:

 

 

Dear Parent/Guardian,

 

I am writing to follow up my message on Friday afternoon with an update.  School safety is always our highest priority, but, in light of Friday’s tragic events in Santa Fe, I know that many parents and students have a heightened level of concern.  As someone who grew up in Deer Park whose children graduated from Deer Park High School and whose grandchild is currently enrolled in our District, I share your concerns.

 

With that in mind, I’d like to spotlight some updates to our school safety program and remind you about our ongoing security efforts:

 

[1] We have increased both the number of police officers present at our high school campuses and the number of counselors available to provide support to students who have emotional needs.

 

[2] As an added safety precaution, no backpacks are allowed at the high school campuses this week.

 

[3] At the high school facilities, we have a security officer at each public and student entrance.

 

[4] Teachers and administrators are on duty at various locations before and after school at each campus.

 

[5] We continue to review our safety and emergency operations procedures, which are routinely audited by an outside contractor.

 

[6] Over the last few years, our school visitor entrances have been made more secure with the addition of exterior locking doors and safety vestibules that require each visitor to be “buzzed” into the building. 

 

[7] We are already hard at work on the projects funded by the successful November 2017 DPISD Bond Election.  Those projects include replacing security cameras at all of our facilities, installing shatter-resistant window film, updating our visitor check-in system, purchasing panic alarms, and installing improved safety lighting at our facilities.

 

[8] School security cameras are monitored throughout the school day by employees.

 

On their own, none of these efforts will make a significant effect on student safety, but together, they can have a huge impact on school security.

 

I’m sure that you spent a lot of time watching the various news reports over the weekend.  Seeing them myself, I was struck by the fact that, too often, news reports seem to focus on what schools are doing wrong or what we’re not doing. 

 

But there’s an important part of this issue that has gone almost completely unreported.  The news media doesn’t cover the number of potential threats to Texas students and schools that are prevented because of the bravery and diligence of our employees, our school resource officers, our students, and observant community members.  News stories don’t feature the number of students who get the help they need because a concerned classmate or a friend told an employee about a suspicious situation.  They don’t report the number of violent acts that are prevented because of our many security precautions.

 

Every day, our students and staff members make a difference by doing their part to keep our schools safe.  They make a difference in the lives of children in need by reaching out to them and providing support.  I won’t pretend that things are perfect here in DPISD.  We certainly aim for perfection, but when we receive feedback or discover new ideas, we use that information in a constructive way.  Keeping our schools safe for all students and staff members is an ongoing process, and we will never stop working to improve security. 

 

Finally, I want to close by sharing a few reminders.  I appreciate your patience with our repeated references to these programs, because we feel that if just one child benefits from them or if one incident is prevented, it was worth our time.

 

We continue to remind students, parents, employees, and community members about our SAY SOMETHING campaign.  Students are encouraged to speak to a teacher, administrator, or other adult if they have knowledge about anything suspicious.  Prior to Friday’s events, our Communications and Counseling departments were already working on a SAY SOMETHING promotional video, which was posted to our social media accounts this afternoon.  It is available for viewing at www.facebook.com/dpisd and www.dpisd.org/excellence.

 

I also want to remind you again to take advantage of our Anonymous Alerts system for reporting threats as well as bullying, harassment, and more.  Anonymous Alerts tips can be made by going to any DPISD campus website or to the main District website at www.dpisd.org and clicking the Anonymous Alerts button.  You can access the link directly at www.anonymousalerts.com/deerparkisd/, or you can download the app from the Apple Store, the Google Play store, or the Chrome store.  After downloading the app, click on it, enter setup/login “deerparkisd” and enter “deerparkisd” as your password. Reports can also be made to any school office or by calling the District Safety Office at 832.668.7070. 

 

Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”  Dr. King’s words remind us that, while there is certainly darkness in the world, we have plenty of light as well.  My hope is that this message sheds a little light on the most important thing we do: providing a safe learning environment for our students and a safe working environment for our employees.

 

Sincerely,

Victor E. White, Jr.

Superintendent of Schools